Here are several ideas for cycle routes within Manchester, you might be a mountain biker, BMX rider or you could enjoy exploring the roads, either way, there’s something for you in the Manchester area!
Platt Fields Park
BMX is a fun and exciting sport that anyone can get involved with, and if you head down to Platt Fields Park in Fallowfield you’ll find the outdoor BMX track which is ideal for riders of all ages and experience. There are beginner sessions available for riders who lack in experience, while for those who have been riding for longer, they are able to take part in thrilling organised races.
The kids could join the Platt Fields Youth Club which runs coaching sessions for under 16s that are open to all, concentrating on BMX racing techniques. There are plenty of open outdoor sessions where you can use the whole track at your leisure, but it’s recommended that riders try a coaching session before taking to the track by themselves.
Click here to take a look at the timetable for the outdoor track, or maybe even head down with the whole family and enjoy a day in the park; there’s plenty of other paths to explore while you’re at it.
Bridgewater Canal to Lymm
You can access the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal anywhere from Castlefield to Altrincham before then riding out to Lymm on this easygoing ride. Depending on where you start your journey, your route could be anywhere between 10 – 20 miles there and back. The towpath of the canal is a pleasant route which will take you from the suburbs around South Manchester, out into Cheshire past Dunham Massey. Along the route, you’ll be passing under historic bridges as you navigate your way, taking in the vibrant wildlife with families of swans, ducks all basking in the calm waters.
A perfect ride for all ages, there’s not a hill in sight, just a nice route with everyone enjoying time outside of the inner city ratrace. Once you head on this route, you’ll be amazed at just how quickly you can be enjoying the quietness of rural Cheshire, and how easy it is to hop on a bike and pedal yourself along, without a car on HGV in sight!
Please note that because there wasn’t a suitable video of the Bridgewater Canal, you can take a look at the skills of Martyn Ashton and his road bike trickery.
It’s amazing that more people aren’t aware of the off road cycling course at Clayton Vale; if you head out along the Ashton Canal towpath through New Islington, you very quickly (after a couple of miles) come across the Sport City development which contains the Etihad Stadium, the Manchester Regional Tennis Centre and the National Cycling Centre. Situated behind the latter is Clayton Vale, where there are 12 kilometers of trails with a mixture of difficulties, all colour coded, much like you would find on European ski slopes.
The routes are graded easy, moderate, difficult and extreme, meaning even the most hardened of MTB rider will be challenged. Clayton Vale is surrounded by suburbia, but you wouldn’t guess it as you challenge yourself on technical areas and drop offs which are interspersed throughout the course.
There is a sufficient amount of trails so that any level of rider can find a great rhythm, enjoy a challenge or taking it easy. It’s a simple and cheap, great day out for the kids – it beats sitting in playing on the Playstation anyway, and when you’re done riding, you can enjoy a coffee and ice cream at the National Cycling Centre before heading home!
Trans Pennine Trail
The Trans Pennine Trail is not just great for cyclists, it’s also an easygoing route for both walkers and horse riders alike. If you want a real challenge, you could ride from coast to coast over 215 miles (346 km) or if you’re staying in the Greater Manchester area, there’s still plenty of trail to try your hand at as the trail winds through the Mersey Valley and out towards Lymm.
Well mapped and signed all the way, whilst in the Manchester area, the route takes in Dunham Massey Hall, Sale Water Park, The River Mersey, Chorlton Water Park, Stockport and parts of Tameside. You can find out more information here about the route which is suitable for either hybrid or mountain bikes, and again, it’s a superb day out for the whole family with plenty of opportunities to stop off for a bite to eat and to enjoy the fresh air.
To the north of the city, and heading out towards Rochdale, you’ll find the Rochdale Canal which forms part of National Cycle Route 66. You can join it in the city centre before then cycling past Ancoats, Newton Heath, and Failsworth before heading up into Rochdale itself. The canal first opened in 1804 and was built to link the coalfields of the East with the mills and ports of the West; playing a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution. The whole route runs all the way from Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire to Manchester City Centre if you think your legs can take it. If not, a three mile ride from the city centre to the birthplace of Manchester United at Newton Heath will be enough for you to stretch your legs, you’ll be able to take in some rich local heritage while you’re at it.
National Cycling Centre
The National Cycling Centre was completed in 1994 and at the time was Britain’s only indoor cycling track. The 250 metre track is considered to be one of the world’s finest and fastest indoor tracks and the bankings are 42 ½ degrees. Anyone can try their luck and test their pace on the velodromes busy track, and while it is in constant usage with beginners to seasoned professionals taking to the boards, there are plenty of public track sessions and schools can also organise trips where the children can learn basic bike handling and confidence building sessions.
If you just fancy watching, there are plenty of UCI world tour events which take place at the Cycling Centre, but its recomended that you check out the School Holiday Sessions that are held for 9 to 16 year olds which will keep them busy and active, there’ll be no trouble getting them to sleep at night if they have been competing in mock time trails all day at the velodrome!
Cycling can be a fun day out for the whole family, no matter what age or level of fitness you are. Just by heading a couple of miles outside the city centre, you’ll find many fantastic routes, be it for those who like to ride bmx, road cycling or mountain biking – its certainly something worth looking at, especially with the summer holidays on the way and the buzz that the Tour de France passing through Greater Manchester will create.
Are there any routes that you would recommend? we’re after the best trails in the area, leave a comment below or join in the conversation on twitter.